Best Dog Food for Puppies: The Foundation of Good Nutrition

by | Nov 24, 2019 | 0 comments

So, you decided to have your very own fur baby, and this automatically upgrades you to become an official fur parent. Being a fur parent is a very challenging, very exciting, and a very heartwarming life experience. You get to take care of another living being that can reciprocate your love with puppy kisses and playful jumps, unlike the plant that just sits on your office table or mini-garden.

Being a parent to a puppy is a holistic experience because you need to have all sides covered. One of the most important aspects of having a puppy is nutrition, and if you are new to the crazy world of pet parenting, then you’ll be delighted with what we prepared for you in this article.

We will be talking about the best dog food for puppies, because this is an essential part of your journey, and you have to understand how important this is.

Puppies at a glance

Puppies are baby dogs, and depending on the breed you will be having, they can weigh from about a pound (for small breeds) up to more than twenty-three pounds (for large breeds). They have a very accelerated growth level, which jump starts the moment they were born, which is usually after about 60 days of gestation period.

The exceptional growth spurt occurs in the first three months, which is when the basic motor and sensory functions develop further. In general, when you obtain your puppy from a relative or a friend or even a pet supplier, they only wean the puppies after eight weeks, and there are state laws about the minimum age of a puppy before he can be re-homed.

This ensures the survival of the puppy being away from his mother and being able to fend for itself, especially when it comes to eating and drinking.

Puppies are very active balls of fur, and are very inquisitive, active, and social. Within the second and third month is the ideal time to develop social skills around people. This is their formative period, so make sure to give them love and enough socialization because if not, they can develop fear around other dogs or humans when they become adult dogs.

In fact, the American Kennel Club encourages pet parents with puppies to introduce their fur babies to about a hundred people before they reach their third month. So, let your pet explore as far as he can, and let him meet as many friends and family members as possible.

The first six months are the most formative months for puppies. Nutrition, growth and development, as well as socialization are developed during this period at supersonic speeds. The next thing you know, your fur baby is no longer a “baby.” This is why the accelerated physical and mental growth must be supported by superior nutrition because how we invest in good nutrition will be harvested later in our pets’ adult doggy life.

Now, as you already have an idea of how active our fur babies can be as puppies, then you realize that they need the best possible nutritional support, especially after being weaned from the dog mommy’s milk. This is why we really want to determine the best dog food for puppies, including the best wet dog food for puppies as part of the options that we will discuss later on.

Nutritional support is the foundation of a healthy dog as it grows into an adult. Think of good dog food as an investment into your dog’s health, because what you feed it will show results after a couple of years. Thus, it is very important to choose wisely, and that is why we are here to help you.

The Best Dog Food for Puppies

Lorem Ipsum Lorem Ipsum    
Holistic Select
  • Has natural fibers for easy digestion
  • Made from premium ingredients
  • No gluten, no artificial colors
Check Price on Amazon.com
Hill’s Science Diet Wet Dog Food
  • Small kibble and delicious chicken flavor
  • Provides DHA from fish oil for healthy brain & eye development
  • High-quality protein
Check Price on Amazon.com
Wellness Complete Health Natural Wet Canned Puppy
  • 100% complete and balanced everyday nutrition for your puppy
  • Premimum quality ingredients
  • All natural
Check Price on Amazon.com
Nutro Puppy Natural Wet Dog Food
  • Lorem Ipsum
  • Lorem Ipsum
  • Lorem Ipsum
Check Price on Amazon.com
Merrick Classic Grain Free Canned Dog Food
  • Grain-free nutrition
  • #1 ingredient is deboned turkey
  • No artificial colors
Check Price on Amazon.com

What should you look for?

You will be surprised by how massive the market for puppy dog food is today. There are literally thousands of them to choose from. There are a lot of variants that are available, but in general, the best dog food for puppies is divided into the following categories:

  • Dry puppy dog food. It is the most convenient and widely available dog food preparation for puppies. This can be easily stored and easily served, and this has a very nice price range for budget-conscious pet parents. You can get it cheap, or you can also go with the premium variants. Dry puppy dog food can also be sub-categorized into regular and grain-free dry dog food, or dog food preparations that lean towards meat-based sources while setting aside grains as a protein and primary carbohydrate source. We will give our recommendations later should you consider feeding your pup with dry dog food.
  • Wet puppy dog food. The direct counterpart of dry puppy dog food, wet puppy dog food mimics the natural appearance and consistency of natural food in the wild. Utilizing fresh ingredients and also preservative-free in most products, wet puppy dog food is a good addition as an alternate variant for your fur baby a couple of days a week. However, some pet parents swear by this type of puppy dog food because this is a very good source of natural protein, which is very important for body growth and development. Like dry dog puppy dog food, wet puppy dog food comes in regular wet puppy dog food and grain-free wet puppy dog food variants. We will also provide you with a great selection of best wet dog food for puppies later on.
  • Breed or size-specific dog food. We have placed this as a separate category even though breed-specific dog food variants can be either wet or dry dog food. What is unique about breed or size-specific dog food options is that the nutritional support is tailor fit to meet the size or breed-specific requirements of your pet, effectively delivering his caloric and nutritional requirements in every serving. As you may know, energy and nutritional requirements vary (this is more evident when we talk about dog sizes), as larger breeds will require significantly higher protein and calories in their meals. Now, how are breed-specific dog food options adjusted according to the breed? You see, there are breeds that are prone to musculoskeletal problems. There are also breeds that are more at risk for metabolic problems. Breed-specific dog food helps maintain healthy levels of nutrition and minerals in the diet, because anything in excess will show up in the adult and senior years.

What are the differences between puppy food and adult dog food?

There are actually quite a lot of differences, and this is very important to understand because you can’t just feed your fur baby with the adult dog food and expect him to be fine. The nutritional value, how it is made, and the preparation of the dog food are quite different, and here’s why.

  • Puppy food is generally softer than the adult dog food. As puppies still have a developing dental structure, the puppy food preparation must be softer than adult food preparation. This ensures proper dental development and proper motor function of the jaw without hurting the gums or erupting teeth. All these considerations must be carefully observed on top of the nutrient-dense and small kibbles that puppies will consume. In contrast to puppy dog food, adult dog food is prepared in harder kibbles, which can be tolerated by a well-developed dental structure.
  • Puppy food contains a denser level of nutrients and protein. As you may know, proteins are the building blocks of our puppies’ bodies and are thus very important in our pets’ daily activities and body growth. During the growing period, which primarily refers to the first few months, it is essential for our puppies to receive nutrition with a significant amount of protein content because of their immense requirements. Puppies, regardless of the breed, are usually more active than their adult counterparts. Due to this increased activity level, the growth and repair of muscles both necessitate protein, which doubles up the requirement. In adult dog food, protein is still there, but the level of requirement is a bit lower because the musculoskeletal structure is already established, bones have fused, and muscle integrity has already peaked.
  • Puppy food is usually more expensive than the adult dog food. The research that dog food companies invest to make the best puppy food is really remarkable. Today’s nutrient-rich dog food options came from the humble roots of basic pet food with basic ingredients that contain protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Years ago, if your pet food contained more than those three, it was already considered premium. Nowadays, everything is present in each kibble for holistic nutritional support each and every time. However, research requires funds, and this is part of the investment of the companies working hard to give you the best pet food there is. It is noticeable that puppy food is significantly more expensive than the adult dog food, but from an investment point of view, a great puppy food is always worth it.

What is the best dog food for puppies?

Veterinarians strongly recommend that pet parents do a sampling of a couple of brands that fit their budget. It is important to find a particular dog food brand that your puppy will like, because this will be the foundation of your pet’s growth. We have mentioned budget, because this is going to be one of the most important considerations when coming up with the decision on what is the best dog food for puppies that will work for your requirements.

Sampling is an important way to identify the best choice, whether it be the best dry or best wet food for puppies. It allows your fur baby to find the dog food preparation that he likes, because of course, consumption will also determine the effectiveness of the nutrition provided. The best dog food for puppies is quite a good mix of objective and subjective factors:

  • It should fit your budget. Realistically, and before we proceed with all good things for our fur babies, we should talk about how much you can allocate in terms of budget. Budget will determine your dog food options because this will dictate the price point range that you can check and choose from. Veterinarians do not recommend downgrading midway. What do we mean by this? For example, you’ve been convinced that you should purchase top-tier dog food, which costs a lot. However, as the price becomes more and more uneconomical, you shift down to cheaper options. This is not a healthy practice, especially when your fur baby has already become acclimated to the dog food brand. Shifting may or may not work for your pet because, regardless of the dog breed, there will always be some fur babies that are terribly picky eaters.
  • It should come from premium and natural sources. The dog food industry is massive, and because there is a very wide range of price points, sources play a very important role in determining the production cost and suggested retail price. The best of the best in the industry uses premium ingredients other than conventional fillers or “meals.” In the ingredients section of the packaging, you will find the list of items that are included in the dog food. If you are seeing “meals,” these are the result of a preliminary preparation or cooking process. While there has been a divisive debate that “meals” contain more protein than actual meats, the quality of the protein is significantly lower.
  • It should have no preservatives. Puppies are very fragile animals, and how they will grow as adult fur babies will completely depend on what we feed them. In general, high-end puppy food has no preservative content because it is very important that everything puppies eat is natural, and if we will introduce preservatives and other harmful ingredients, we are compromising their longevity from the very beginning.

What can be considered questionable dog food?

We have mentioned some factors that make a dog food product great. If your budget is a bit tight, here are the things that we encourage you to check should you go with the cheaper dog food options in the market.

  • “By-products.” By-products are the yield of an existing process, such as what is left from cooking, brewing, stewing, or any other manufacturing process. Based on this description alone, you see that you won’t be getting a lot from by-products. While these are not completely similar to waste products, they’re significantly less to almost nothing in by-products. They are usually added into the mixture as a filler and supplementary source of protein and nutrients.
  • There is no mentioned specific animal source. This is one of the most important indicators that the dog food contains ingredients that are so vague that the company can’t even clearly mention the sources of the ingredients. This is a no-no for us, and being a very important aspect of overall puppy health, we should at least know what goes into our fur babies’ bowls.
  • The dog food is ridiculously cheap. With the amount of research and overhead costs to produce quality dog food products, the base cost should be reasonable. There are some cheap dog food choices in the market that are priced that way because they are not using premium sources. However, if you find a dog food product that costs just $20 for 50 lbs, then something is wrong here.

We really want to make sure that you, our dear readers, are well-informed, because the consequences of consuming sub-standard dog food will show up in the older years. Consuming poor quality dog food could lead to life-threatening health problems that can be devastating not just for our pets but also for us as pet parents.

Standard recommendations

So what is the best dog food for puppies? We took our time in finding the best options in the standard dry dog food varieties because we want to show you the best of the best in the market today. These are proven brands for optimum nutrition to ensure that your fur baby only receives a natural and sustainable nutrition as it grows.

Orijen Dry Dog Food

Orijen is one of the most sought after dog food brands in the market today. This dog food brand prides itself in the highest meat concentration in its formulation, which is more than 2/3 of the overall content.

This preservative-free dog food, paired with nutrient-dense ratios of cartilage, organs, bones, and of course, fresh meat, as well as fresh fish and eggs, provides a very complex and comprehensive nutritional support, making Orijen one of our best recommendations for the best dog food for puppies.

Orijen Dry Dog Food

With the highest meat concentration in its formulation, more than 2/3 of the overall content

Iams Proactive Health

So, what is the best dog food for puppies? Iams Proactive Health Puppy Dry Dog Food utilizes meat coming from farm-raised chickens, together with more than twenty-two essential ingredients that are found in the fur mommy’s milk. In addition to this, the Omega-3 inclusion helps promote improved cognition for smarter fur babies, which is very important if you want to train your pet early.

Iams Proactive Health

Contains meat coming from farm-raised chickens with Omega-3

Taste of the Wild Prairie

Another veteran dog food company is Taste of the Wild. Well-known for its grain-free formula and sensational taste that comes from roasted venison and roasted bison, this is one of the fancier and best dog food for puppies that you can buy in the market.

Moreover, Taste of the Wild High Prairie Recipe Puppy Food contains an abundant amount of antioxidants extracted from raspberries, blueberries, and tomatoes to ensure cellular growth and optimum function.

Taste of the Wild Prairie

Known for its grain-free formula and sensational taste and contains an abundant amount of antioxidants

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free is another brand that utilizes real chicken as its primary source of protein and nutrition. The company believes that chicken is the most accessible protein source today, therefore utilizing it while managing to maintain a high-quality product.

Thanks to the company’s proprietary LifeSource bits, which refer to a complex blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to ensure proper absorption, your pet’s daily requirements for sustaining proper growth are met. And if you are still asking what is the best dog food for puppies, well we hope you know the answer by now.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free

This dog food uses real chicken as its primary source of protein and nutrition

Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food Large and Giant Breed Puppy – Lamb

What separates Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food Large and Giant Breed Puppy from other dog food brands is its focus, which is optimum digestive support. We are all for great nutritional content in the dog food that we feed our fur babies, but if that cannot be completely utilized and absorbed, it will be an ineffective approach to nourishment.

Still, you keep asking, what is the best dog food for puppies? Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food Large and Giant Breed Puppy uses a great array of natural fibers, probiotics, prebiotics, as well as natural botanicals and digestive enzymes. All these digestive support factors are combined with premium ingredients, including its primary protein source, which is real lamb.

Holistic Select

This dog food has natural fibers for optimum digestive support

Recommendations for best wet dog food for puppies

From dry dog food options, we now proceed with to our top choices for the best wet dog food for puppies. Wet dog food choices are as diverse as dry dog food preparations, and we are here to give you an idea of how to find the best wet dog food for puppies that you can choose from.

Hill’s Science Diet Wet Dog Food – Puppy

We begin our recommendations of the best wet dog food for puppies with Hill’s Science Diet Wet Dog Food. This dog food offers holistic nutritional support for muscle development, antioxidants for cell maintenance, and minerals for the promotion of strong teeth and strong bones.

There are two available variants for puppies: Chicken and Barley and Chicken and Vegetables. These two can be alternated for variety in taste if you will stick with Hill’s as your dog food staple.

Hill’s Science Diet Wet Dog Food

Offers holistic nutritional support for muscle development

Wellness Complete Health Natural Wet Canned Puppy

This wet dog food option utilizes a good mix of premium salmon and chicken for a perfectly balanced protein nourishment, as well as DHA for healthy eye and neurologic development, which are both very important in this particular life stage.

This formulation also contains flaxseed for healthy skin and a shiny coat, as well as carrots for a good dose of antioxidants.

Wellness Complete Health Natural Wet Canned Puppy

Utilizes a good mix of premium salmon and chicken for a perfectly balanced protein nourishment

Nutro Puppy Natural Wet Dog Food

Nutro Puppy Natural Wet Dog Food is one of the dog food brands that is proud to boast that it does not contain any GMO ingredients. The primary ingredient of this dog food is real meat from farm-raised chicken, and it has no wheat, corn, and soy.

So, you don’t have to worry because this is also preservative, color, and flavor-free. All you are getting would be the good stuff for your fur baby.

Nutro Puppy Natural Wet Dog Food

The primary ingredient of this dog food is real meat from farm-raised chicken and it does not contain any GMO ingredients

Merrick Classic Grain Free Canned Dog Food

Another turkey-based dog food in the bunch, the Merrick Classic Grain Free Canned Dog Food is heavily packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and a balanced combination of protein and carbohydrates from sweet potatoes, peas, as well as apples.

One of the most widely accepted and recommended wet dog food choices in the market, Merrick Classic Grain Free Canned Dog Food is also one of the most reasonably priced. So what is the best dog food for puppies? This wet dog food variety is highly recommended for the first year of life to ensure adequate nutritional support.

Merrick Classic Grain Free Canned Dog Food

Heavily packed with essential vitamins, minerals, a balanced combination of protein and carbohydrates

Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Canned Puppy Food

Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Canned Puppy Food contains an interesting mix of premium protein from chicken meat, as well as fruits, including blueberries. Now, here’s the yummy part.

This is one of the few dog food variants that contain herbs, such as thyme, sage, and rosemary, so from a human perspective, you already have an idea of how flavorful this is. As the product is grain fee, expect no soy, wheat, or even corn to be in the meal.

Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Canned Puppy Food

A mix of premium protein from chicken meat, as well as fruits, including blueberries

What about the best dog food choice for boxer puppies?

This is not something random, but we just want to give you a side trip to one of the most adored dog breeds in the country and one of our favorite breeds in Pupped.com – the Boxer.

We believe this adorable dog encased in a tough exterior deserves special mention, and here we are with some basic information about the breed, as well as information about the best dog food for Boxer puppies.

The Boxer at a glance

Boxers make up a short-haired and medium-sized dog breed that belongs to the large family of dogs developed for the purpose of hunting. They have a very playful personality and very intelligent, too.

Despite their appearance, which veers away for what people traditionally consider “cute,” you may be surprised that Boxers can get along very well with children, which is a feature that is not very common in medium-sized dogs. The distinct love and faithfulness of their ancestral pedigree has been passed on; this is why Boxers managed to experience a constant increase in the number of families choosing them as a fur baby.

If you’re one of the thousands of pet parents who currently own one, consider yourself very lucky. Now, if you are planning to get one, then let us help you decide what you should look for in the best dog food for Boxer puppies.

The Distinct Boxer Nutritional Requirement

Boxers grow at a very fast rate as compared with other medium-sized breeds. Given their muscular frame, Boxers will benefit from tailor fit nutritional support to help sustain the daily nutritional requirements of their rapidly growing bodies.

Usually, male Boxers can reach anywhere from 50 to 80 lbs. On the contrary, female Boxers can weigh from 40 to 65 five pounds, making them slightly lighter than their male counterparts. Despite the weight difference, Boxers will need delicately balanced nutritional support, which should have at least twenty-two to thirty percent (22% to 30%) protein, and nine to fifteen percent (9% to 15%) fat content.

The reason behind this is quite obvious. Given their dense musculature, Boxers need a good amount of protein to help develop and maintain their muscles, along with the daily requirement of maintaining and repairing the damaged cells because of their very active lifestyle. Boxers can also benefit from dog food options that promote proper digestion, as well as those that contain antioxidants to help protect cell growth and function.

Best dog food for Boxer puppies: our recommendations

Just like any other puppy, Boxer puppies deserve the best possible dog food to help sustain consistent growth and nutrition, which are extremely important for physical and cognitive growth. Boxers require a good balance of nutrients to help support muscle and bone development, as well as essential amino acids to help with brain development as well.

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Boxer Puppy Dry Dog Food

Gracing our short but very informative list is this breed-specific dog food from Royal Canin. The Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Boxer Puppy Dry Dog Food has been specifically developed to ensure that all nutritional requirements of this breed will be met in every serving. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Boxer Puppy Dry Dog Food contains twenty-eight percent (28%) protein, mixed together with vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and L-carnitine, to ensure that excess calories will be properly regulated with the help of constant physical activities.

The beauty of having a breed-specific dog food for your dog is that you don’t have to worry about miscalculations or lack of nutritional support. Combined research and passion for veterinary excellence led to the development of this breed-specific food preparation, which makes dog nutrition less stressful and more manageable. This best dog food for boxer puppies is really a remarkable step from Royal Canin.

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Boxer Puppy Dry Dog Food

Specifically developed to ensure that all nutritional requirements of this breed will be met in every serving

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food for Large Breed Puppy

As Boxers fall in the borderline of medium to large dog breeds, we also recommend Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food for Large Breed Puppy. While not a breed-specific dog food like the one offered by Royal Canin, this dog food offers a similar nutritional value based on the dog size. This product features a balanced combination of protein for muscle growth and development, minerals for the teeth and bones, and DHA obtained from high-quality fish oil for the eye and brain development.

If you cannot find a breed-specific dog food for your fur baby, it would be a sound decision to veer towards the size-specific dog food because this will be a closer match to the digestive and musculoskeletal requirements of your pet. It is a matter of percentage accuracy to ensure that our fur babies are getting their requirements correctly and precisely. This gives you a pretty solid leverage in making your choices for the best dog food for Boxer puppies.

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food

Features a balanced combination of protein for muscle growth and development

Nulo Puppy Dry Food Grain Free

This dog food is a grain free and balanced puppy food with all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to ensure absorption and proper digestion. While we mentioned Royal Canin as the breed-specific recommendation and Hill’s Science Diet as size-specific, Nulo is something we’d recommend as an affordable and general option as one of the best dog food for Boxer puppies.

Nulo Puppy Dry Food Grain Free

A grain free and balanced puppy food with all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to ensure absorption and proper digestion

Conclusion

As we conclude our discussion, it is essential to understand the importance of proper and adequate nutrition for puppies because this will be their first line of defense, as well as an advantage in order to survive.

Just like their pet parents, nutrition is the basis of health for our furry friends. You are what you eat, and this also rings true for your fur baby. If you will be able to achieve the nourishment that your puppy needs the very early stages, then you can be more secure in the knowledge that the puppy will grow as a healthy adult dog and live many wonderful years with you.

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Sharing is caring!

Amanda Wilson
A licensed veterinarian and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Amanda Wilson grew up in a family of biologists and veterinarians from her hometown of Boston, MA. Amanda used to work in an animal research facility in California. However, she had a change of heart after being assigned temporarily to support a big state animal shelter and seeing the conditions of the dogs admitted. She felt that they deserve more love and that first-time pet parents should be well-informed about all aspects of pet parenthood—even the not-so-great ones.

Currently practicing at her own clinic in another city, Amanda lives with her husband and son, as well as their family dog—a Dalmatian named Tiny. Aside from attending to the needs of her fur-bulous clients, she also enjoys teaching young children about responsible pet parenting.